Categorized | Local, News

EIA only in Belham, but still no decision on jetty?

by Bennette Roach

The Chief Minister Reuben Meade in the joint press conference held with H E Governor Davis Wednesday, August 10, was at pains to explain how he appeared to be suggesting that it was a ‘done deal’ where a jetty will be located to facilitate sand mining exports.

There has been much concern by many not least the Hon. Donaldson Romeo, at the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), currently underway about the development of a facility for the refinement and export of sand from Montserrat, has been ordered only in respect of Isle’s Bay and the Belham Valley.

On July 26, 2011, Romeo communicated his thoughts on the jetty-sand mining matter to the CM. “If the jetty is in Foxes bay, sand mining would still be viable, and stockpiling of sand could be done while the volcano is less active. This way, when there is heightened activity, the stockpiled sand can be shipped from the Foxes Bay area, making for a more reliable supply and a lower investment risk.

“If the jetty is placed in the mouth of the Belham, and activity threatens or engulfs that valley — including by mud flows – the facility would be put out of use and the industrial activity would be shut off.”

There have been many similar expressions including mentions in various reports ordered by government on the issue, as well as open discussions.

Upon inquiry Romeo received a response which says: “My remit is very clear in that it is to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for sand mining in Montserrat with specific reference to the Belham Valley. Any investigations extending outside the Belham Valley, as for example,  in relation to siting a jetty at Foxes Bay, fall outside my remit.”

The response also revealed: “In addition to the EIA I am required to prepare Environmental Management Guidelines for the sand mining industry. Once again, these would be specific to operations in the Belham Valley, for the EIA.”

The EIA ToR had referenced a “lobby group opposed to sand mining. The group referenced, the CM had suggested was Property Owner Association (MPOA) members, who have gone to lengths  to show that they were more than supportive for sand mining as economic activity for ‘Montserrat’.

At first he said he would not answer the question: “I don’t want to respond to it from that view because I can’t answer that, what I’m suggesting here is a that even the groups who oppose the sand mining the will have an opportunity to have discussions with the environmental impact assessment team .”

There he was prepared to say there is a group opposing sand mining!

C M Meade answering questions on sand mining

The CM on Wednesday at the press conference, while refusing to admit that no one is opposing sand mining in Montserrat; and after I drew to his attention that he spoke as though  the jetty and corresponding activity will be located in the Belham and Isle’s Bay, said that in spite of that, no decision will be made until 12 weeks time after the EIA is completed.”

He would say not acknowledging the question: “The EIA will provide the government with the necessary advice on a whole range of issues and we have had discussions with the EIA consultants already indicating some of their concern and some of the things which government must start looking at already.”

As if to confirm instead that there are people who oppose sand mining he said: “we have already agreed with those who oppose and those who agree that we will have another discussion at the LIME to include the EIA so that we can continue the dialogue.

Still evading further: “Lets understand a couple of things wherever you put your export facility, we have to consider where the sand will come from…will the sand come from Foxes Bay or will the sand come from the Bellham?” he asked.

In follow-up questions he was asked, “do you believe tourism in Montserrat, tourism to Montserrat should be encouraged or discouraged as a way to attract foreign currency to the island?”

“Tourism clearly is one of the pillars of our economic development future, so yes Montserrat focusing heavily on tourism,” he replied, adding, “but let us look at the number of villas that are located in the Bellham valley that are likely to be impacted now on the basis of what is coming out of the environmental impact assessment. We have to now look at the number of villas that are located in the Belham…we have to now look at how best can we create two industries to operate in parallel with minimizing the negative impacts…”

On that he concluded, people see it as, “sand miners operating up and down the valley in an uncontrolled manner; yes currently it is uncontrolled because we don’t have the legislative backing to support it; so part of what will come out of the EIA will be all of those things intended to ensuring that negative impacts on tourism will be minimized.”

Then finally after more questions. “No, let us take away the limitations that you are placing , the objection to mining in the Bellham is one of the features of the persons who are objecting to sand mining, not the jetty, the jetty is part of the consideration persons are saying that if you are having active mining in the in the Belham it will affect the tourism industry. I wish to just repeat it for the very last time in this discussion, the EIA study will take into consideration all of those issues, all.”

H E Governor Davis, clarifying

The Governor apparently recognising the potential ambiguities in the responses, pitched in, said, “…just to add, sand mining is not distinctive it is an investment project which will hopefully be beneficial if we do it for the economic development of Montserrat. In any investment project the cost and benefit of what you are doing, you make sure the benefits for the economy are greater than the cost, approximately discounted, etc. and that’s what we’ll do in the EXCO paper that will come later in the year.”

Early in the press conference the CM did say: “…government has to do all in its power to ensure that any industry that’s operating in Montserrat operates as efficiently as possible and minimize in negative impacts of that industry on the society. Hence, whatever is being done on sand mining is taking into account all of those considerations.”

Stand by as in our next issue, there will be more on the press conference.

Go here to access some excerpts of live press conference Listen to Chief Minister at press conference and here

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Bennette Roach

The Chief Minister Reuben Meade in the joint press conference held with H E Governor Davis Wednesday, August 10, was at pains to explain how he appeared to be suggesting that it was a ‘done deal’ where a jetty will be located to facilitate sand mining exports.

There has been much concern by many not least the Hon. Donaldson Romeo, at the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), currently underway about the development of a facility for the refinement and export of sand from Montserrat, has been ordered only in respect of Isle’s Bay and the Belham Valley.

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On July 26, 2011, Romeo communicated his thoughts on the jetty-sand mining matter to the CM. “If the jetty is in Foxes bay, sand mining would still be viable, and stockpiling of sand could be done while the volcano is less active. This way, when there is heightened activity, the stockpiled sand can be shipped from the Foxes Bay area, making for a more reliable supply and a lower investment risk.

“If the jetty is placed in the mouth of the Belham, and activity threatens or engulfs that valley — including by mud flows – the facility would be put out of use and the industrial activity would be shut off.”

There have been many similar expressions including mentions in various reports ordered by government on the issue, as well as open discussions.

Upon inquiry Romeo received a response which says: “My remit is very clear in that it is to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for sand mining in Montserrat with specific reference to the Belham Valley. Any investigations extending outside the Belham Valley, as for example,  in relation to siting a jetty at Foxes Bay, fall outside my remit.”

The response also revealed: “In addition to the EIA I am required to prepare Environmental Management Guidelines for the sand mining industry. Once again, these would be specific to operations in the Belham Valley, for the EIA.”

The EIA ToR had referenced a “lobby group opposed to sand mining. The group referenced, the CM had suggested was Property Owner Association (MPOA) members, who have gone to lengths  to show that they were more than supportive for sand mining as economic activity for ‘Montserrat’.

At first he said he would not answer the question: “I don’t want to respond to it from that view because I can’t answer that, what I’m suggesting here is a that even the groups who oppose the sand mining the will have an opportunity to have discussions with the environmental impact assessment team .”

There he was prepared to say there is a group opposing sand mining!

C M Meade answering questions on sand mining

The CM on Wednesday at the press conference, while refusing to admit that no one is opposing sand mining in Montserrat; and after I drew to his attention that he spoke as though  the jetty and corresponding activity will be located in the Belham and Isle’s Bay, said that in spite of that, no decision will be made until 12 weeks time after the EIA is completed.”

He would say not acknowledging the question: “The EIA will provide the government with the necessary advice on a whole range of issues and we have had discussions with the EIA consultants already indicating some of their concern and some of the things which government must start looking at already.”

As if to confirm instead that there are people who oppose sand mining he said: “we have already agreed with those who oppose and those who agree that we will have another discussion at the LIME to include the EIA so that we can continue the dialogue.

Still evading further: “Lets understand a couple of things wherever you put your export facility, we have to consider where the sand will come from…will the sand come from Foxes Bay or will the sand come from the Bellham?” he asked.

In follow-up questions he was asked, “do you believe tourism in Montserrat, tourism to Montserrat should be encouraged or discouraged as a way to attract foreign currency to the island?”

“Tourism clearly is one of the pillars of our economic development future, so yes Montserrat focusing heavily on tourism,” he replied, adding, “but let us look at the number of villas that are located in the Bellham valley that are likely to be impacted now on the basis of what is coming out of the environmental impact assessment. We have to now look at the number of villas that are located in the Belham…we have to now look at how best can we create two industries to operate in parallel with minimizing the negative impacts…”

On that he concluded, people see it as, “sand miners operating up and down the valley in an uncontrolled manner; yes currently it is uncontrolled because we don’t have the legislative backing to support it; so part of what will come out of the EIA will be all of those things intended to ensuring that negative impacts on tourism will be minimized.”

Then finally after more questions. “No, let us take away the limitations that you are placing , the objection to mining in the Bellham is one of the features of the persons who are objecting to sand mining, not the jetty, the jetty is part of the consideration persons are saying that if you are having active mining in the in the Belham it will affect the tourism industry. I wish to just repeat it for the very last time in this discussion, the EIA study will take into consideration all of those issues, all.”

H E Governor Davis, clarifying

The Governor apparently recognising the potential ambiguities in the responses, pitched in, said, “…just to add, sand mining is not distinctive it is an investment project which will hopefully be beneficial if we do it for the economic development of Montserrat. In any investment project the cost and benefit of what you are doing, you make sure the benefits for the economy are greater than the cost, approximately discounted, etc. and that’s what we’ll do in the EXCO paper that will come later in the year.”

Early in the press conference the CM did say: “…government has to do all in its power to ensure that any industry that’s operating in Montserrat operates as efficiently as possible and minimize in negative impacts of that industry on the society. Hence, whatever is being done on sand mining is taking into account all of those considerations.”

Stand by as in our next issue, there will be more on the press conference.

Go here to access some excerpts of live press conference Listen to Chief Minister at press conference and here